Security Overview

Security Overview

While the Bare Metal service is intended to be a secure application, it is important to understand what it does and does not cover today.

Deployers must properly evaluate their use case and take the appropriate actions to secure their environment(s). This document is intended to provide an overview of what risks an operator of the Bare Metal service should be aware of. It is not intended as a How-To guide for securing a data center or an OpenStack deployment.

REST API: user roles and policy settings

Beginning with the Newton (6.1.0) release, the Bare Metal service allows operators significant control over API access:

  • Access may be restricted to each method (GET, PUT, etc) for each REST resource. Defaults are provided with the release and defined in code.
  • Access may be divided between an “administrative” role with full access and “observer” role with read-only access. By default, these roles are assigned the names baremetal_admin and baremetal_observer, respectively.
  • As before, passwords may be hidden in driver_info.

Prior to the Newton (6.1.0) release, the Bare Metal service only supported two policy options:

  • API access may be secured by a simple policy rule: users with administrative privileges may access all API resources, whereas users without administrative privileges may only access public API resources.
  • Passwords contained in the driver_info field may be hidden from all API responses with the show_password policy setting. This defaults to always hide passwords, regardless of the user’s role.


There are two aspects of multitenancy to consider when evaluating a deployment of the Bare Metal Service: interactions between tenants on the network, and actions one tenant can take on a machine that will affect the next tenant.

Network Interactions

Interactions between tenants’ workloads running simultaneously on separate servers include, but are not limited to: IP spoofing, packet sniffing, and network man-in-the-middle attacks.

By default, the Bare Metal service provisions all nodes on a “flat” network, and does not take any precautions to avoid or prevent interaction between tenants. This can be addressed by integration with the OpenStack Identity, Compute, and Networking services, so as to provide tenant-network isolation. Additional documentation on network multi-tenancy is available.

Lingering Effects

Interactions between tenants placed sequentially on the same server include, but are not limited to: changes in BIOS settings, modifications to firmware, or files left on disk or peripheral storage devices (if these devices are not erased between uses).

By default, the Bare Metal service will erase (clean) the local disk drives during the “cleaning” phase, after deleting an instance. It does not reset BIOS or reflash firmware or peripheral devices. This can be addressed through customizing the utility ramdisk used during the “cleaning” phase. See details in the Firmware security section.

Firmware security

When the Bare Metal service deploys an operating system image to a server, that image is run natively on the server without virtualization. Any user with administrative access to the deployed instance has administrative access to the underlying hardware.

Most servers’ default settings do not prevent a privileged local user from gaining direct access to hardware devices. Such a user could modify device or firmware settings, and potentially flash new firmware to the device, before deleting their instance and allowing the server to be allocated to another user.

If the [conductor]/automated_clean configuration option is enabled (and the [deploy]/erase_devices_priority configuration option is not zero), the Bare Metal service will securely erase all local disk devices within a machine during instance deletion. However, the service does not ship with any code that will validate the integrity of, or make any modifications to, system or device firmware or firmware settings.

Operators are encouraged to write their own hardware manager plugins for the ironic-python-agent ramdisk. This should include custom clean steps that would be run during the Node cleaning process, as part of Node de-provisioning. The clean steps would perform the specific actions necessary within that environment to ensure the integrity of each server’s firmware.

Ideally, an operator would work with their hardware vendor to ensure that proper firmware security measures are put in place ahead of time. This could include:

  • installing signed firmware for BIOS and peripheral devices
  • using a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) to validate signatures at boot time
  • booting machines in UEFI Secure Boot Support, rather than BIOS mode, to validate kernel signatures
  • disabling local (in-band) access from the host OS to the management controller (BMC)
  • disabling modifications to boot settings from the host OS

Additional references:

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